Players’ Chief Questions Lockout

From Associated Press

Billy Hunter, director of the NBA Players Assn., disputes the league’s reasons for imposing a lockout beginning tonight.

“If there’s a softening in our position, we’ll let them know,” said Hunter on Monday in New York, adding that he expected to meet with Commissioner David Stern in mid-July. “But the league is profitable, the commissioner and the deputy commissioner are the highest paid in professional sports, the number of league employees is growing and the average salary of coaches is higher than that of the players. So why are things so bad?”

Stern, however, disagreed.

“The current system does not work,” Stern said. “We can’t afford to play next season under the current system. That’s just the reality. That’s why owners elected to lockout.”

Both sides are so far apart that the impasse could last into November, when the season opens, or December--or even 1999.

“Yes, that is fair and accurate,” Stern said of possibly losing games to a work stoppage for the first time in NBA history. “There are a number of clubs that will do better not operating than operating. That’s something the players don’t seem to understand.”